Habitat and 4 day overnight Overberg, Tanqua Karoo & West Coast National Park

Hi Brian,

Many thanks for the photos. Yes, we have both returned safely to a distinctly chilly England after a great time in SA, especially with you!

We both very much enjoyed our time with you; in fact it was by far the best part of our whole trip to South Africa. I am sorry to say that I cannot think of any way in which you could make improvements; so far as we were concerned, it was just what we wanted!

Best wishes,

Black Skimmer “Rhynchops niger” at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Cape Town, South Africa Friday 5 October 2012

Last Thursday a strange bird was sighted at Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Table View 12k north of Cape Town.  Two birding experts were called and the bird described to them and it was not long after that they arrived at their supposed urgent “site meeting”.  It turned out that this skimming bird was not the African Skimmer as was first expected but an American visitor from the North.

Numerous American bird books were consulted and it was confirmed that it was in fact a Black Skimmer “Rhynchops niger”.  This became the first photographed Black Skimmer on the African continent and thereby confirmed. 

black skimmer

In flight the Black Skimmer “Rhynchops niger” at Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Cape Town, South Africa.
Photograph by:  Brian Vanderwalt

Further investigation suggested that the tropical hurricane that had hit the Gulf coast on America had swept this bird firstly to Ireland, County Mayo, where it only stayed one day and then worked its way down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town.  The distance is approx 11 000km which it travelled in 35 days. 


Hi Brian

Many thanks for your email and the picture. 

After a manic return to home, I finally get a chance to write to you and thank you for an amazing trip. It was a pleasure to spend the day with you and the knowledge you showed was amazing.

If we are ever in South Africa again ....or Namibia, then we will contact you to see what we could work out.

Once again many thanks

Peter and Mandy Hickson - UK

300 full procotocol cards Tygerberg Atlasers SABAP2 database

Brian Vanderwalt is one of the three Tygerberg atlasers to have submitted 300 full procotocol cards for the SABAP2 database. His 300-card Milestone Award was presented to him at the club’s monthly meeting on 20 September.

sabap2 award 300 blocks

Brian’s contribution is of special value in that he has been recording information in remote areas while either engaged as a birding tour guide or contracted to monitor birds for environmental assessments.

Brian, the TBC salutes you

Laurence Wormald (UK)

Thanks Brian,
I enjoyed our afternoon, will recommend your services to other birders if they are coming to ZA!

Best regards

Betty’s Bay and Tankwa - March 2012


This is just a note to say again how much I enjoyed the trip to the Betty’s Bay & Tankwa Karoo earlier this week. We leave later to day for the Garden Route, returning via Prince Albert and the southern Karoo.

Best regards,
Mark Peters, Esq.

Commendation - Cape & Tanqua Karoo

Brian – I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed my trip to the Cape & Tanqua Karoo with you.  You managed to find almost every single bird I was looking for, and your company made the whole thing even more enjoyable.  I would certainly recommend you to any other birder looking to fill in their list of Cape Endemics.

Will call you when I’m coming down again for the Pelagic, and we can maybe look for these and the Larks.

Andrew Metcalfe

Langebaan bi-annual Shorebird count but first "crailing"! March 2012

Hi All,

We did our 38th bi-annual Wader Count on Sat morning at 11am. We had to meet at 10am and I decided that it would be a good idea to get there early and go to Abrahamskraal (the only fresh water hole) early for a change.   

What a treat it was!    We had 33 species from the hide in less than an hour including 10+Black Crake and one adult African Rail opposite the hide.  One Juv on the right of the hide where the Yellow Canaries come down to drink 3m away!!!!!!!!!!    And none of them wanted to go away for at least 30min.   A Black Harrier flew over from the southern end and now there was a dilemma……. what do you watch, the Rail or the Harrier?????   Eventually the Harrier won and after a short stay on the ground flew off and we watched the Crakes & Rail again.  One of my pics has 2 Black Crakes and one African Rail in the same frame.   How cool is that!

Birding in Cape Town - December 2011

Hi Brian,

I wanted to thank you so much for persisting in your search for the blue crane. It was a great find!  And thanks again for all your attention to us.

We had a wonderful experience with you as our guide and we saw so many beautiful African birds.

Half day Habitat trip route - February 2012

First port of call was Kirstenbosch and before we had even left the car park a male African Goshawk clicked from the dead tree for all to see, what a start!  The other good bird seen chirping near the entrance gate was Cape Siskin. Very unusual to be this low down in the gardens.

They were feeding on the daisy type flowers which were normally used by CapeCanaries which were calling from the top of the Oak trees.  Karoo Prinia greeted us near the aloes where it was scolding a Southern Boubou. Outside the forest the Swee Waxbills were feeding on grass seeds and inside the forest Cape Batis was flitting around the lower canopy whilst African Olive Pigeons were feeding on fruit high in the canopy.

Tanqua in Feb 2012

Took a UK client on an overnight trip to Tanqua.

On our way we passed big groups of Sacred Ibis, White Pelicans and White Storks at the slaughterhouse near Voëlvlei Dam (Gouda).  Of course there will also be the ever presentWhite-necked Ravens and Yellow-billed Kites when there is a possibility of food!   Arriving at 6pm at my Gydo Pass dammetjie, my first job was to use my secateurs and cut back the bramble.  Whilst doing that I enjoyed the fresh ripe brambles!!!!!!  Once the cleaning and opening up the rock pond was done we could stand back and watch the procession of birds coming in to drink and bath.  Firstly the Cape Turtle Dove, then the Olive Thrush, followed by the Yellow Bishops.  The Cape Robin-chats hid in the bramble until there was a gap in the procession and had a quick bath.  The juv had a dry clean as most youngsters do!  A drab male Malachite Sunbird also made and appearance, but the surprise and fist for the dammetjie was a juv maleSwee Waxbill. Then the bird we had been waiting for arrived at 7pm, washed, drank and preened on one of the open twigs. Great sighting of Protea Seedeater!

West Coast Birding Trip on Friday 10th Feb

Hi All,

We decide to go straight to the Geelbek hide at West Coast National Park as the outgoing tide would be ideal and what a good move that was.  A few Steppe Buzzards and Yellow-billed Kites were sitting in the taller trees on the West Coast highway and were eagerly awaiting small rodents to break cover.  

Waders close to the Geelbek hide were; Little Stint, Common Ringed, White-fronted and Chestnut-banded Plovers.  Many more C-B Plovers than W-F Plovers…which was unusual. Grey Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Curlew Sandplover were amongst the small groups of Sanderling hastily feeding on the receding tide.  Further out Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank and Common Whimbrel were feeding in the deeper water. An Osprey flew away from the lagoon carrying a fish in its talons, obviously to eat it’s food in peach away from the pestering Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls.  Two Caspian Terns came fairly close to the hide and their red bills stood out very well.  A group of White Pelican lazily glided over the lagoon on their way to the Langebaan islands.

TBC outing to Macassar Sewerage Works, Western Cape on Saturday 21 January 2012

2012-01-grey-headedgullHi All,

The TBC (Tygerberg Bird Club) had their monthly outing to Macassar Sewerage Works on Saturday, which I led.  We met just outside the main gate at the bridge over the Eerste River.  

The cool windless conditions encouraged 25 keen members to start birding here and it was easy to watch Lesser Swamp Warblers flitting about the reeds below the bridge.

Within the rank river vegetation Bar-throated Apalis and Southern Boubou called and were eventually seen out in the open. A Black Sparrowhawk darted across the coastal dunes into the taller trees, amazing where they are now pitching up!

From the bridge we moved towards the pans and walked slowly around them.  A Three-banded Plover caught our attention along the edge of the pan and we soon noticed a Greenshank with a Common Sandpiper.

Cathy Jenkins – 28 January 2012

Hi Brian

Thanks for a very enjoyable Tygerberg Bird Club outing on Saturday and also your informative list on Tygerberg & Cape Bird Nets.

I really like the way that you describe the birds when we are looking at them as it is very helpful in remembering details of the birds for future recognition.

Cathy Jenkins

Jean Meyer - November 2011

Dear Brian,

A month in South Africa is definitely not enough time.  We really appreciate your part in making it such a wonderful tour.  Thank you for sharing your pictures with us and for a wonderful time.

Jean Meyer
Texas, USA

African Spoonbill taken at Abrahamskraal on 24th Sept 2010

African SpoonbillHi All,

I was looking for some pics to use in a talk when I came across a pic of an African Spoonbill taken at Abrahamskraal on 24th Sept 2010. I had noticed some time ago that it had a metal ring on BUT had not seen the yellow ring on the left leg above the knee! A yellow "AC" ? I notified the ADU and received the following reply: